Street Food : Light bites

Eat the street !

Given the appropriate packaging, there's no food that can't be eaten on the go – as this clutch of alternative street food outlets prove with aplomb. Craving fish and chips? A bibimbap? Obscure Japanese vegetables beautifully arranged in a bento box? Look no further.

El Nopal

Critics' choice

In Mexico, a nopal is a cactus whose shape bears a passing resemblance to a ping-pong bat. In Paris, it's a snug little restaurant tucked away in the 10th, a hop and a skip from the Canal Saint-Martin, where a modest range of dishes from the cactus's homeland is served. We're firmly in street food territory here: gorditas (cornflour doughnuts) for €3.50, tortillas stuffed with said cacti for €7.50, or – at the upper end of the price scale – flatbreads topped meat and veg for €8.90. It's fresh, filling and irresistibly flavoursome, and will only fuel the Parisian mania for gourmet fast food.Unless the shop's one and only chair is free, you'll be taking away, though the nearby Square Eugène Varlin...

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10th arrondissement

Ma Kitchen

Critics' choice

Be prepared to queue at this tiny Franco-Korean canteen, whose rainbow of colours and flavours behind the bar seem to attract the entire neighbourhood. Fortunately the staff are both patient and prompt in filling their cardboard cartons with the house speciality, bibimbap. Traditionally, this Korean dish mixes rice, vegetables, meat and an egg – Ma Kitchen's version leaves out the egg, but gives it five new spins every day of the week: salmon with basil, spicy chicken with honey and peanuts, Korean roasted pork, fried chicken, sautéed prawns with ginger, etc. You can also choose from six vegetables...

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Gare du Nord/Gare de l'Est

Mussubï

A warm welcome awaits you in this soberly decorated Japanese canteen, staffed by three enthusiastic ladies who preside over a raft of bento boxes filled with delicious salads, well-cooked meats and omosubis – little balls of rice flavoured according to the recipe of the day (seaweed, spinach, corn and peppers, courgettes and miso, etc.). Everything is elegantly arranged and available in three sizes, always with a vegetarian option, and priced from €7 to €13 for a bento box and from €11 to €17 for a formule complète with soup, salad or a drink. If you get there early, grab one of the two wooden tables...

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Gare du Nord/Gare de l'Est

Mum Dim Sum

Critics' choice

To say that something is all the rage implies that it will have its moment in the sun and then disappear – which can’t be said of dim sum, whose popularity in Paris seems set to endure. Mum Dim Sum on the boulevard Courcelles, a chic and friendly canteen that takes its décor more from New York than Beijing, has been a popular choice for some time. Everything is home made and you really feel it, in the smells from the kitchen and the freshly-prepared dim sum and dishes like perfumed thai rice or soup that are as delicious as they are affordable. At midday they offer a good range of set menus, like the ‘Mum’ (€11.50)...

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Batignolles

Le Rouleau de Printemps

Critics' choice

The secret’s been out about Le Rouleau de Printemps for some time, but it never disappoints, with its reliable quality and disarming simplicity. You can’t reserve a place in one of the two postcard-sized rooms, so arrive early to get a space on the shared tables. A coriander-scented bo bun, some plump crunchy egg rolls, a vegetarian spring roll and some steamed prawn ravioli washed down with jasmine tea or Tsingtao beer won’t cost you much more than €20, so go easy on the sometimes chaotic service. The staff are always charming but the dishes arrive haphazardly, sometimes poorly presented...

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Belleville

Clasico Argentino

Forget French glace, Italian gelati and British Mr Whippy: every self-respecting Parisian nowadays eats Argentinean helado – preferably from luxury fast food store Clasico Argentino. Founded by Argentineans Enrique Zanoni and Gaston Stivelmaher, the shop-cum-restaurant serves eight flavours of ultra-creamy ice cream made on the premises, including dulce de leche (a sweet, milky cream) and fruit helados laced with alcohol. If you want to take the Argentinean theme to the extreme, borrow one of Clasico Argentino’s DVDs (€20 deposit). The collection includes famous and lesser-known Argentinean films...

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11th arrondissement

The Sunken Chip

Critics' choice

The idea of a fish and chip shop in Paris carries with it overtones of the dreaded Irish bar abroad, all stale spilled Guinness and badly dressed tourists out on the lash. Thankfully, The Sunken Chip couldn’t be further from this shudder-filled idea. It is run by expats, and it has set up shop in that crook of the Canal Saint-Martin so popular with nesting Brits and Americans, but it has done so with style and plenty of local sympathy (the menu is knowingly bilingual). It’s also a very smart move – younger Parisians are endlessly enthusiastic about foreign fast food innovations...

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10th arrondissement

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